The Federal government last week sanctioned over a dozen Russian Federation nationals due to allegations that they were involved in manipulating U.S. elections, hacking into the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) computer systems, and releasing a nerve agent in England.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) made the designations on December 19 against 18 Russian individuals, accusing them of several “malign activities” both against United States targets and targets in other countries.
The first designation announced was against a man alleged to be an officer of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) who OFAC says works on behalf of another prominent Russian businessman who has already been designated. Per OFAC, the duo helped funnel money from the Russian government to a particular political party in Montenegro in the run-up to that country’s 2016 election.
The second designation is also the result of alleged interference in an election in 2016, namely that for the United States president. OFAC says the duo, consisting of one Russian man and one Russian woman, was involved in Project Lakhta, an effort begun in 2014 to manipulate elections around the world. The U.S. government says the pair created websites that supplied divisive but inaccurate news content intended for disrupting the election.
The third designation also relates to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but consists of nine GRU officers. OFAC alleges the group of targeting election systems, tampering with political parties, and releasing stolen documents related to the election that were subsequently shared on social media.
The fourth designation is against a quartet of Russian nationals who OFAC accuses of hacking into WADA’s databases and stealing documents. Investigators say the individuals employed spearphishing attacks to obtain the documents, subsequently releasing many of them, some of which were altered.
The fifth and final designation is of a duo of GRU officers who allegedly released a nerve agent in Salisbury, England in an effort to assassinate another Russian national and his daughter. The alleged targets survived, but two other British individuals were exposed to the same agent, killing one.
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